Monday, November 22, 2004

From Eschaton -- Deja Vu All Over Again

I just want to make sure I've got this because as we run up to war with Iran, I want to be sure this doesn't go down my own memory hole:

Groundhog Day

We really are in repeat. I'd forgotten Ken Pollack has a big new book out warning us about Iran. I'm sure we can look forward to his numerous appearances on chat shows saying diplomacy is the best solution, but absent that war is probably a better choice than doing nothing. Rumsfeld will deny that there are any "war plans on his desk," giggling as our press fails to note that he neither bothers to make any plans nor does he actually use a desk. Andy Card will comment that one waits until after Labor Day to roll out any new product. Judith Miller, the current Queen of All Iraq, will develop exciting new sources within the new Iranian National Congress. With any luck, the balsa wood drones of death will reappear, as will scary plans for weapons of mass destruction which look like they'd been scribbled by a 5 year old. And, it'll all hit the fan right before the midterms as the Dems once again run and hide.Wake me up, please....oh no, it's going to be worse. We'll have endless weepy tributes to "Iranian college students" who will overthrow the government by Crazy Andy and Tom Friedman. Friedman will write endless "soul searching" columns about "Tom Friedman's war." Oh Lord, it goes on and on... the last two years really did righteously suck. I don't want to do them again.

-Atrios 2:31


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Here’s another one

Howard Dean yesterday railing against the media for the way it absolutely refuses to engage in any meaningful scrutiny of the Republicans. Sure, Howard, the media are awful. Are they biased by the fear of getting yelled at by an intensely angry Republican flack? Sure. Are they under-talented, under-educated and under-trying? Of course. But here’s the real point of Media Bias: the corporatization of the media has led to a media solely dedicated to selling soap. Our 11:00 o’clock local news carries story after story about fake threats ("Are your children safe from poisoned food? Film after the game."), and about celebrities ("Jude Law Named Sexiest Man Alive"). They do this not because they love Karl Rove, but because in their experience it sells soap. They get more viewers paying better attention when they keep us up to date with the latest on Scott Peterson or Martha Stewart than when they explain how John Kerry’s healthcare proposals will allow virtually every child to receive affordable quality healthcare.
It’s not the media that’s the problem, it’s the voters, stupid. We need to re-discover ways to interest viewers/voters in our stories. For going-on-four decades, the now-geriatrics at 60 Minutes have been more or less doing the job. Their show is commercially successful. It sells soap. Lots of it. And they do it with the breathless expose, the stinging rebuke, the final reveal of conclusively damning evidence. They sell the outrage, so people buy it.
If the Democrats were to make a Big Stink about the House’s changing of the rules in order to permit its leaders to remain in their posts even after they’re indicted, highlighting the utter hypocrisy of their reversing their moral position for no reason other than their unwillingness to condemn one of their own for his moral shortcomings, I think it would work. Dems should spread out on all the talk shows and other media outlets and talk about nothing else for two weeks. Get invited on under false pretenses if need be , but no matter what the question, the answer is the moral bankruptcy of the Republican House.

Here’s One...

I can’t help but think of the Democrats as the Washington Generals of politics. The Washington Generals would appear at the start of every single game against the Harlem Globetrotters, warming up with as much earnestness and seriousness-of-purpose as could possibly be mustered. Of course, we all knew that it was an act, and that their whole reason for existence was to provide a foil (fool?) for our beloved Globetrotters to literally run rings around. But the charade only really worked if the poor Generals – for the 1641st time – played with sufficient sobriety (whiteness?) that the inevitable triumph of the All-Fun All-the-Time Globetrotters over them seemed satisfying.
Hence, our friends in the Democrat Party. Here comes Curly Lemon holding out a spinning ball tantalizingly close to a Generals player – and surprise: just as he lunger for the ball, Curly almost by magix flips the ball off of his head – then off of the ceiling! – then, swoosh, into the hoop.
Now here comes Karl Rove, railing against the de-sanctification of marriage caused by the unnatural acts of men marrying men and then actually having sex AS IF IT IS OK. Joe Democrat looks at the issue longingly – he wants nothing more than to stand up and shout "THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING GAY AND NOT A REASON IN THE WORLD TWO MEN SHOULDN’T GET MARRIED AND – GASP – EVEN HAVE SEX IF THEY WANT." You can almost see steam coming out of Joe D.’s ears as he restrains himself, knowing that such an outburst would alineate something like 80% of the electorate outside of Greenwich Village. But he can’t restrain himself: "While I hold the sanctity of marriage inviolate and believe that if should be reserved for a union between a man and a woman, I believe that same-sex civil unions are appropriate." THE CROWQD GOES WILD! Karl grabs the ball before Joe D. Even knows it’s gone and throws it into the hoop, banking it off the corner of the hot dog guy’s cart.
It doesn’t help either that Joe D. Has not only taken the bait, but has done so in a reserved, analytic, nuanced manner. KARL RULES!
So here’s the learning. From Sun Tzu, we all know that the war is won or lost before the battle is even begun (you got that, Mr. Wolfowitz?). There is no winning move for Joe D. on gay marriage. He can either alienate voters or betray his own values and compromise his cherished integrity (gee, this would be a lot easier if Republicans had integrity, wouldn’t it?). So Mr, Tzu (and several millenia of military thoerists), what’s the answer: decline to engage in a war one cannot win.
So Joe D., the next time Killer Karl comes at you with gay marriage, or the pledge of allegiance, or school prayer, or abortion, or flag-burning, or Presidential oral-zex-outside-of-marriage, just refuse to take the bait. Watch the ball spinning. Say to your constituents who are being malisciously maligned, "Sorry, but this is one battle I just can;t fight for you – let’s hope the courts will do their job!" Do not, Joe D., lunge for that ball.
Because without the nuancing Joe D. To make fun of, the Globetrotters’ don’t have much of a show.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Emerging Themes

A few ideas are starting to emerge as keepers.

I continue to believe that essentially ignoring so-called social issues, rather than digging in our heels, is the right move. Wanna outlaw abortion? Our position should be something like, "We recognize that abortion presents our society with fundamental questions that should be fully explored. As a party, we believe in upholding the Constitution of the United States, which at this time protects a woman's right to choose."
That's it. Same for gay marriage. School prayer. Let's recognize these issues for the winners they are: either the Republicans get their way and alienate everybody, or the right eventually figures out that the Repubs don't really care about these issues.
The best possible outcome would be for these things to simply fade away from public view, enjoying the obscurity they so richly deserve.
Another tactic: we should pick a few government programs that enjoy broad support, and demand that they be improved and beefed up. Take food inspections: most Americans are reasonably enthusiastic about their tax dollars going to make sure our food supply is safe. But as any viewer of local news shows during sweeps knows, our food supply is far from as safe as it could be. Let's propose a massive increase in the number and thoroughness of food inspections.
It may be that safe food is a loser, but let's picka couple.
The other area I think we should explore consists of issues that make Republicans uncomfortable. Let's get back to talking about our wasteful defense spending. I suspect the Conventional Wisdom is something like, "Oh, no, we'd be seen as weak on terror." But Democrats have made hay for generations by focusing on obvious pork. A riff on this might be to become the anti-pork barrel party, and make that a centerpiece of our message (analagous to smaller government or lower taxes). Of course, that would mean we would have to lay off the pork, but hey, it's pretty good policy, and with our guys on the outs in DC, how much are we really giving up any way?
Two last thoughts: One, we have to put the lie to the various strawmen that Republicans need to survive. So when red-staters voice fears about higher taxes, the question we should be asking is which Democrat raised your taxes to such high levels? Or, which Democrat want to take away your guns? Or force your kids to be gay? Or prevent you from practicing your faith? We're the guys who are tolerant, not the Republicans. In a similar vien, we should stand up and defend forthrightly our own values. The Ivy League is a good thing. East Coast liberals are the guys who favor raising everybody's living standards, and are really good about being caring and selfless.

Finally, we have got to find some leading voices with a Southern accent. This doesn't mean that our PResidential candidate must be a Southerner, but we do have too many New York and California voices. We should be reaching out to bright people from our toughest areas to join the cause, instead of hiring so many from our strength. (We could also look into finding more enterprising ways to tap into young creative talent: right now, there are too few oppportunities to make a career in the politics of helping each other.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Stray Thoughts…

Starting to calm down a bit, and slightly more rational thoughts are starting to poke through the haze…

First: John Kerry should remain the unquestioned leader of our party, a sort of President-in-waiting. Could there be a more perfect time than now for us to have a shadow President? While there are plenty of warts on our candidate, that would surely be true of any candidate we run. Unless (until?) a powerful, charismatic leader emerges to challenge Kerry’s dominance, all Hail Future-President Kerry.

Second: Ya know how Kerry’s been painted as an out-of-touch elitist East Coast lefty snob? Well, remember Bill Clinton? He was a low-class, trailer-trash amoral bastard hick who didn’t know how the real world worked. If you think about it, you can write the script for any Democratic nominee. (Try it with Edwards: an inexperienced, young, ambulance chaser, driven mad with ambition, with no foreign policy experience. Or how about Dean: an overly smart, hyper doctor from a patrician New York family who went to Vermont because he wanted to be governor, who lacks the temperament needed to be President.)

All of which is a wind-up to #3:Third: Whatever the short-comings of our candidates, we can still focus on re-formulating our message and our approach. I’d begin with the Oklahoma chapter of Christian Evangelicals for Kerry. There is no way we should cede the Bible Belt to the Republicans. People who think of themselves as Christians belong with us and our whole “help-your-neighbor” schtick, not with those on the “every-man-for-himself” right.
Which brings me round to #4:Fourth: We have fallen into the trap set for us by the Evil Ones: the Republicans absolutely require an “us vs. them” mentality, and we’ve taken the bait, hook, line, sinker, rod, the whole damn boat. All of the Red State/Blue State crap should be thought of as unpatriotic Republican dogma. What unites us is far stronger than what divides us. That’s a big part of what was so thrilling about Barak’s speech: he absolutely blew up the us/them dichotomy, and claimed for our side our traditional approach: we’ll win because the majority are with us, and we’ll focus on building that majority.

Let’s start with Alabama: if you’re poor, white, have a truck, and are pissed off at “special interest groups,” get on board out train, because we’re fighting for you. Some of this is cultural (no more condescending East Coast intelligentsia crap), but a lot of this is convincing folks that we’re on their side against their real enemies.

Round 5? OK, since you insist:
Fifth: Let’s quit playing with these guys on the so-called social issues. If they want to outlaw gay marriage, let’s let them. As much as it’s obvious gay hatred, we only make it successful if we acknowledge it. It’s rather like a petulant teenager saying that they’re going to out and do awful things – the whole entire point is to antagonize Mom and Dad. If Mom and Dad stay focused on what counts, the gambit quickly loses its appeal. So fine. Outlaw gay marriage (it’s not legal now any way.) Wanna outlaw abortion – knock yourselves out. With a significant moderate wing, the Republicans will defeat themselves on this junk.

Why yes, let’s even let them ban flag burning. I think the good people of the United States would somehow stumble through history even if burning the flag were illegal.

OK, Round 6, but then I gotta go.

Sixth (Can you tell I was a lawyer): We have got to lose the earnest, analytical, reasoned approach to talking with voters. When choosing the Big Leader, voters are conducting a job interview. We show up with the stronger resume and better skills, but we bore the crap out of the interviewer, while the other guy shows up with no skills and just out of rehab, but he’s totally more fun to hang out with, plus he seems like he’d to a kick-ass job. So we lose. Every freakin’ time. So l loosen up, have some fun that doesn’t involve clucking over how inept the Bushies are (or how medieval the Bible Belt is – it isn’t, you know – they have Wal-Marts there just like everywhere else). Look, I love Al Franken as much as the next snarky New York liberal, but I can see where he’s just pissing off a whole lotta folks. Glad to have him, but let’s get more folks who connect with the non-Harvard educated. (Hey I know: let’s give Jeff Foxworthy a whole lotta cash and see if we can get him on-board). Which leads me to

Big Finish:Right after Fundamentalists for Kerry, how about Country Musicians for Pay Equity? How great would it be to have all of country music’s biggest stars lined up with us pushing for a decent standard of living for their fans?

Folks, it’s all just a matter of imagination and packaging. When it comes to substance, we’ve got the goods. We just need to sell it in better.

Friday, November 05, 2004

New Framework

I’m finally cured of the “Oh No! We’re All Going to Die” despair that loomed so large Wednesday and Thursday after Kerry’s crushing loss. No longer do I want to take our Good Democratic Dominoes and Go Home. I’m (almost enthusiastically) resigned to the slow, hard grind of incrementally evolving our messaging for 2006.

BUT I cannot escape the notion that our message must evolve significantly to get us back on track. To that end , I have an observation and a suggestion:

Observation. I heard Al Franken and Joe Conason going at it today, Franken saying that our next candidate had better be a Southern Baptist because boy, did the Republicans make a lot of hey from Kerry’s New England patrician status, which also singularly failed to connect with voters outside of core blue states. (True enough, Al.) But Conason quite correctly reminded Al that when we in fact ran a Southern Baptist (our last two winners, actually), the Republicans did not hesitate to paint him as a hick, a low-class schemer from a alcoholic mother and a who-knows-who father. (Touche, Joe.) They agreed that no matter who we run, the Republicans will smear that person as out of the mainstream. (Good job, boys.)

All of this is pretty common pratter these days. But there’s a deeper truth that I haven’t heard much about, but is basic and fundamental. The Democrat and Republican parties are not similarly situated in our society. We hold certain beliefs about the two sides that we do not articulate. This is a key example: the Democrats are the Dudley Do-Right, while the Republicans are Snively Whiplash. So, a smear from a Democrat of a Republican is going to be viewed (by the press and by at least some voters) as heinous, vicious and beyond the pale. Shoe on the other foot (Republican smears Democrat): well, what did you expect?

Can you imagine a Democratic primary with the kind of tactics that are completely normal on the right? Insinuations from “3d parties” about black babies? Leaks about a candidate’s wife’s prescription drug problems? I’m sure it happens, but on the other side it’s a way of life.

Another example is the “flip-flopper” affair. Bush changes positions like I change underwear (once weekly whether I need it or not). Kerry slightly rephrases his detailed and nuanced positions and wham! Flip Flopper! The reason why the right’s smears stick and the left’s don’t is the unspoken premise that the Democrats are the good guys, and should be above such things, while the Republicans are, shall we say, unencumbered with such expectations.

Suggestion. In the quest to reframe the debate to terms more favorable to our side, I have written before about the transformative power of the concept of value, so that we can move the discussion away from the cost side of government services (taxes) and balance it with the benefit side (clean air, the Air Force, roads, etc.) Here’s another buzzword that I think we should start to focus on: accountability. I’ve mentioned this before, but the more I think about it, the more I think that we must become the party of accountability. I think it’s a more constructive way to highlight the outright deceptive campaign of the Bushes and their lyin’ ilk, and I think it gives us the basis to move the conversation back onto our territory: away from whether the government should help people, and onto the question of how the government should help people.

So that’s two: Values, and Accountability. And when it comes to message discipline, it should go something like this:

Press: “What do you think of the fact that so many voters cited Mr. Bush’s moral values?
Democrat: “I think we need to focus on accountability and providing the American people with the kind of service they deserve.

Press: “But what about this tuna sandwich?”
Democrat: “That’s why I think we need to focus on accountability and delivering value to the American people.

And so on.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Joy in Mudville

From the Department of Making Lemonade, here are the good things about not winning the White House:

-Bush will have to face more of the consequences of his actions, from the quagmire in Iraq to the failing economy.
-We can all make fun of a hapless incompetent boob for 4 more years,
-There are a whole bunch of incriminating reports coming out that will make Bush voters regret their foolishness.
-Democrats will have 4 more years to sharpen their thinking, build their infrastructure, and find a SOUTHERN PERSON to run in 08. (President Edwards, anyone?)
-The ultra-radical right will no doubt get embroiled with the super-ultra-radical right on issues of whether unwed teen mothers should be shot or drawn and quartered and then shot.
-We can all marvel at the hutzpah of the speculation that Jeb will get the party’s nomination in 08.
-We can finally get a supreme court that is prepared to do away with the pesky commerce clause.
-Democrats can quit attending congressional sessions, and practice fiery oratory.
-Hilariously incompetent “2d Term” appointees.

There are a few negatives, however, that might not be so obvious:

-More smirk, more swagger.
-Smarmy, hard-to-stomach “Veneration of Bush The Elder,” if he should pass on before 08.
-More twins.
-Confirmation that the answer to any public policy challenge is either to cut taxes or invade Iraq.
-Re-definition of political dissent as “providing aid and comfort to the enemy.”

Of course, this list of negatives leaves off such things as the Clash of Civilizations ("WW3"), The 2d Depression, and the transformation of the US into a neo-fascist state. But I thought they went without saying...

One Moment More of Pure Resentment, Please

I know, of course, that the path forward is not through recrimination and resentment. But I think I may be indulged just a bit more…

We are now safe from the specter of gay marriage. And…

Activist judges.

Racial Quotas.


A God-less Pledge of Allegiance

Trial Lawyers.

Death taxes.

Tax-and-spend liberals.



Government health care.


The French.

The UN.

Special Interests.

Too bad the Repubs have forsaken the dogma of the crushing federal deficits that under Bush I were coming to eat your children. It might have helped rein in some of the current crowd’s wild spending and tax-cutting.

Shock & Awe

It’s the morning after, and in the cool light of the new day it seems clear that well over half of all Americans are idiots, concentrated in the South and Mid-West.

The Democrats have spent considerable time and and thought trying to reach out to red-staters. In fact, there may be some truth in the idea that the Democrats come across as less than genuine because they are trying so hard to understand and accommodate those with whom they fundamentally disagree.

But far better a certain amount of perceived patronizing than the outright indifference of the Republicans, whose message to those on the other side of the divide is, “screw off.” It’s straight from the Pat Buchanan playbook: the Dems try to win by building a large coalition in the middle, uniting those from opposing points of view, while the Repubs win by breaking the electorate in two in the hopes of ending up with the slightly larger half. We’re terribly concerned about them; they could care less about us.

Of course, the conventional wisdom is something like, “Well, it’s time for the Dems to return to first principles, and with a blank slate start the hard work of re-building their party.” To heck with that. I’m so mad and disappointed in my fellow citizens that this morning, at least, I’m perfectly happy for them to go off and ruin their lives. Work at Wal-Mart. Live in shacks. Be afraid of gay people.

Only in doing so, they threaten my life as well.

I’m really torn between wanting to return to our old custom of trying to explain, patiently, why giving a larger and larger share of your income to rich people is a bad idea. Why sending your sons and daughters off to the military is not an act of honor but too often of desperation. Why invading unarmed nations for no good reason – and then boasting about it – is likely to lead to serious consequences. Why disdaining science is likely to return us to the dark ages. Why hubris is invariably repaid with come-uppance.

If our fellow Americans don’t get these basic principles, I’m not sure what can be done for them. That’s why the other alternative that seems so appealing on this most difficult of mornings is to abandon them as they have abandoned me. Forget fighting for the common good. Fight only for my own. Leave. Secede. Fight to end the flow of untold billions from the blue to the red states. If the red states are so sure that our Boston Brahman doesn’t “get” them, and that the little man from “Crawford” is their guy, then let them go it alone. We have labored mightily to make a go of things with these people as a united people. They have clearly said that our concerns are not theirs, and that they want to go in a different direction.

Abraham Lincoln fought the Civil War to defend the principal that no state could withdraw from the Union of its own volition. That a Union comprised of states so loosely held was no union at all. But what of a state that withdraws with the full consent of the union. Why shouldn’t the East & West Coasts take their industry, their jobs, their wits and wisdom, and form a union that better suits their needs, and let the middle states form the theocracy they so earnestly desire?

Today, this hardest of days, I’m having a hard time seeing why that isn’t the right answer. Something about a higher moral calling. But to protect our security, our Blue-State security, the very best plan may well be to re-join the community of nations on our own, and let our swaggering, misguided brethern reap the bitter harvest of their unconscionable hubris.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Let's Test the Conventional Wisdom.

The media hold that the race is tied. But there's an emerging Democrat consensus that there are a number of factors that clearly indicate a Kerry win, perhaps even a landslide. Let's get that Emerging CV on paper to see how it holds up under the weight of events.

1. The New Registrants. Millions of new people have been registered, and they are largely Democratic voters. And they do not appear in the polls, as they have not previously voted.

2. In a similar vein the Cel Phone Vote. In this nugget of ECV, there are millions of voters who do not have land line phones, and are therefore not being counted in the polls. And, of course, they lean heavily Democratic.

3. Nothing Added, Much Lost. This is simply an instinctual theory that few Gore supporters have moved to Bush, while numerous Bush supporters have defected to Kerry. This is often expressed in discussing subsets of voters, like Arab-Americans. Bush got many of them last time, but now many have crossed over to Kerry. Or Cuban-Americans. Or Security Moms. Or White Men. Whoever. This seems compelling on a gut level. Will it pan out in reality?

4. Pissed-off Dems. In 2000, this theory goes, Dems were lazily riding a wave of peace and prosperity, and were surprised by the strength of Bush. Bush's harsh and divisive approach has only served to fire up the Democrats, and the result is an unprecedented effort to mobilize the voters, both in the campaign and on election day.

5. Undecideds Break for the Challenger. In all of the current polls, there remain a non-trivial number of undecideds. Historically, these have generally ended up on the challengers' side. If there are still 4-8% of voters undecided, Sen. Kerry can expect to win 80% of them.

6. The Nader of the Right. Some libertarian clown on the right, Michael Badnarik, is seriously pulling votes away from Bush. If Bush won by a few hundred votes last time, it can't be good news that there is a Nader on his right pulling off ANY votes.

7. Nader ain't Nader any more. In 2000, Nader pulled many key votes from Gore, costing him the election (so goes the conventional wisdom, though there are serious arguments to the contrary). But in 2004, goes the Emerging Conventional Widsdom, Nader is far less of a factor: he is no longer supported by a party, he is on many fewer ballots, and most of his supporters have come to regret handing the presidency to the Evil One.

8. Polls Undercount Votes to Challangers. In this gem, the ECV holds that the polls overstate the results, as people say they're voting for the incumbent, but in reality vote the other way. This is especially true when the incumbent is popular with dominant types (white, male, etc.), and the challenger appeals to the disadvantaged.

9. The Secret 50% Rule. The Secret 50% Rule holds that the incumbent needs an approval rating of at least 50%, or else he cannot win, and President Bush has been holding well below this necessary threshold. I suspect this falls into the same "correlation, not causation" bucket as the Redskins loss = incubent loss, but nonetheless, it is part of the ECV.

10. The Back-firing of Republicans' Voter Suppression Efforts. Many minority, young and new voters will so resent the efforts by the Bush camp to keep them from voting, it just energizes them to vote all the more. "Keep me from voting, will you? Ha! In fact, I'm gonna vote twice just for spite!" Or something.

Well, that's 10, which is more than I would have guessed. Now, let's see how it pans out.

Oh, and let's also hope that Tim Russert managers to make a big enough fool of himself that NBC decides to replace him with Someone With A Functioning Brain.

Flash Update: Republicans Are Always Wrong!

For the Accountability Historians, let me make this easy.

If Kerry is elected, Republicans predict:

1. He will show irresolution and weakness leading to renewed terrorist attacks. On schools.

2. His perverse love of high taxes will lead to Americans shouldering huge new tax burdens.

3. His liberal DNA will compel him to create numerous huge new goverment programs.

4. He will force us all into crappy government healthcare.

5. The economy will crash and burn.

6. We won't go on the offense against the terrorists, opting instead for a mealy-mouthed law enfocement approach.

7. He will slash intelligence spending and cut vital defense projects.

8. He will eat your babies.

OK, the last one is probably a stretch, but I should point out that I haven't technically reviewed all of the BC04 campaign literature, and it jus tmight be in there.

When the dust settles on the Kerry Presidency, let's look back at the Republicans' track record to see how many of their predictions came true. So far, they are 0 for 27,542.

Homestretch. Endgame. And then...

Election Eve – 2004

Senator Kerry seems to have a victory well in hand. Polls do not agree, but the better view is that Kerry has a significant lead in the so-called swing states. It may end up with Senator Kerry losing the popular vote and winning the EV, but I doubt it. My prediction is for Senator Kerry to command a 2-5% point margin of victory in the total count, and to collect 300+ EV’s.

And then. And then...

All too suddenly, we will be embroiled with a newly embittered right-wing, whose adherents are increasingly young and ill-used to losing. Freshly-minted conservatives really do seem to believe that all taxes are bad, all government spending is to be avoided, that Democrats have loose morals, and that urban Americans and not as worthy as good rural folk. They will take the defeat hard, letting their innate bitterness ferment and rage. Given that most conservatives are not really for anything, they will relish their re-found role as accusers of the left.

In ruminating on President Kerry’s campaign, I’m struck by a couple of moments. One of the most powerful moments to me was in the 2d debate, where young George sat on his stool, while Big John towered over him, clearly the indicting prosecutor condemning the unrepentant wrong-doer.

Also from the debates, “I know that. I know that.” And from the Republican convention in NYC, the drum beats of fear: Saddam. Terror. September 11. Death.

The two campaigns home pages: Bush’s, all about Sen. Kerry, Kerry’s, also all about Kerry. No one focused on Bush.

Two Kerry endorsements. One, in the NY Times, as much a back-handed compliment as could be imagined. With friends like that, who needs enemies? The other, in the New Yorker, which had never before endorsed a candidate for President. A thorough, calm, unflinching catalog of the incumbent’s failures, and a singing review of the challenger’s credentials. Only the perfidy of the present incumbent could politicize corners of American culture that had previously been above (or below, or next to) the fray.

From a Halloween party Saturday night: “Who’re you gonna vote for?” asks one of the moms to another. “Well, I know who my husband is voting for, but I think I’m gonna vote for Kerry. I think things have just gotten out of hand, and just gonna get worse.”

The current media mindset, worn like an iron helmet: the race is so close, both candidates have done their best and their worst, and thank God the president is likely to win. The President is seen as stronger on terror. Kerry has made a good effort at portraying himself more in tune with the domestic concerns of Americans. Just like 2000: neck and neck down to the wire (even though in 2000 the press had anointed Bush the winner by a 3-5 point margin prior to the actual vote). Republicans accused of voter suppression, Democrats of registering millions of new voters (these charges are meant to counter-balance each other in the media’s idiotic on-the-one-hand-on-the-other Scale of Justice).

A great line from Al Franken today (who remains really quite annoying overall, even as he oh-so-earnetly slogs away for progressivism: On November 3, the minimum wage won’t be any higher, we won’t be any closer to health care for all, we won’t have taken a single step toward a free and democratic Iraq, etc. As put by the blogger who wins the award for my favorite blog title Max Speaks (You Listen) put it, “Polictics begins November 3.

Congratulations to President Kerry on his stunning victory.